president-obama-marijuanaI have to admit; I never thought I’d be able to write a headline like that without looking over my shoulder.  And, I had resigned myself to never seeing what’s currently happening in relation to marijuana happen in my lifetime, but the floodgates are open.  I’ll actually make a prediction right now, the day after an article by David Remnick in the New Yorker called “GOING THE DISTANCE” was published: We will not only see Cannabis decriminalized in our generation, but we will see it (marijuana) legalized for recreational use across the United States within the next 20 years.

In Remnick’s interview with President Obama, the President spoke of his current stance on marijuana.  It’s nothing short of a worldwide game-changer; it’ll be the center of endless heated conversations, it’ll bring disparate groups of people together as surely as it will simultaneously incite even more prejudice and racism in those already on the wrong side of the tracks.

In short, President Obama, if not somewhat somewhat between the lines, is calling for an end on Marijuana Prohibition, admitting that the Drug War (at least in relation to Cannabis) has been an absolute and utter failure, and that marijuana is, at minimum, no more dangerous than alcohol.  In fact, when asked to compare the two, he stated, in no uncertain terms, that marijuana is less damaging “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

Let’s all remember that the President can only speak in political terms.  Every single word of every single response is carefully weighed, thought out, edited, and run past at least 1 or more advisers.  The President says as few words as possible on controversial topics, but when dissected, those words often carry an immense amount of subtext, as few words spoken about the topic in this interview certainly do.

So, in non-Presidential speak, when President Obama says that marijuana is less damaging in terms of its impact on the individual consumer, what he’s really saying is that marijuana is safer than alcohol, period, case closed.  He says this only because it’s true.  And, instead of taking this victory and slinking off to the corner, I would like to add that marijuana is VASTLY safer than alcohol and tobacco, as seen in virtually every piece of unbiased media coverage and every non-political piece of scientific information regarding the topic.

Shockingly, in an about-face that perhaps even Mr. Remnick didn’t anticipate, when he shifted the interview to questions regarding the legalization of marijuana, he said that President Obama “seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue.”  Wow.  An American President who doesn’t immediately dance around the issue with double-speak and rhetoric?  Wow, again.

In fact, President Obama leapt with both feet and began the conversation on the recent shift in public opinion regarding the legalization of marijuana with a reiteration of his youthful indulgence in Cannabis: “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

This stopped Mr. Remnick in his tracks.  He said; “Is it less dangerous?”

Think about this historical moment for just a second; President Obama had to internally consider not only the 80 years of marijuana prohibition, but the years of nonsensical and fanatical actions that have occurred over those past 80 years as a result, including the billions spent on supporting this prohibition, the cultural brainwashing of countless people worldwide who now simply believe that marijuana is “evil” or think it’s the “gateway drug”, to the over 700,000 yearly arrests in the United States alone for the simple possession of marijuana (with sentences that are often more severe than child molestation, rape, and murder), and so on.

For the President of the United States to go against ALL of the propaganda, all of the laws, articles, speeches, books, false data, and skewed statistics that supported a very specific political agenda is an event that is of historical proportions is an astonishing moment in our history.  At its simplest, think of the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in our legal system who, already, because of the decriminalization of marijuana in 20 states and legalization in two as of this writing, are no longer criminals!  What happens to the 40,000 people currently in prison because of the Draconian marijuana laws that have been in force over the past 80 years?

Let me repeat for clarity:  The President of the United States of America just stated that Marijuana is Less Dangerous Than Alcohol.

Regardless, let’s continue with President Obama’s current position.

President Obama said; “It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”

That’s nice, and exactly what any dad might say regarding his children.

But, next came comments on the racial disparity regarding the application of the marijuana prohibition laws:  “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”

Equally as striking was this decisive blow against his own political system: “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

That’s an extraordinarily bold statement for any political figure to make, especially the President of the United States.  Deciphered, what President Obama is saying, is that the very people responsible for writing some of the Draconian laws regarding marijuana, the very people we have trusted with our tax dollars to represent our interests, the people we have hired to be stewards of the truth have not only been lying to us all these years, an undisclosed number of them are guilty of the very crime that hundreds of thousands have been convicted of over the past decades.

To further clarify, he also started that; “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”By simply outwardly addressing this very critical, but very narrow cultural and racial issue that has resulted because of marijuana prohibition, the more subtle ramifications of such a position don’t need to be spoken to, but need to be supported in order for him to make such a bold statement.  That’s a mouthful, I know.  Let me  explain:  If President Obama feels that citizens should not be locked up for non-violent “crimes” related to marijuana, then, without having to come right out and say it, he, without question, is for the legalization of marijuana in some capacity.  At minimum, he’s already stated that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana.  By allowing both Colorado and Washington State to proceed with their legalization of marijuana for recreational use, he is, in effect, supporting the legalization of marijuana.

Something important to note is that President Obama understands the difference between “hard” drugs, and marijuana.  As he pointed out in Mr. Remnick’s interview; “I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

But, it’s the government’s own propaganda that has driven worldwide perceptions that marijuana is no different than “supporting terrorism”, and that those who consume marijuana are no better than the terrorists who murder innocent people.  As a thinking people who seek out our own truth, how are we supposed to make peace with a government who has arrested a productive, law-abiding every 45 seconds for a marijuana-related incident over the past decades, but who now, in a sudden turn, supports the legalization of what still is currently a “Schedule I” drug in the United States?

All of this is truly the tip of the iceberg.  Putting aside the political ramifications of the Federal Government’s about-face, there are countless economic ones.  For example; Colorado has already raken in $500 million in marijuana-related taxes.  Other states, many of whom are facing bankruptcy, have already realized the massive amount of income for the state.  Drug cartels and the black market have been enjoying the spoils of that market since Prohibition started.  States, driven solely by economic greed, I predict, will begin to fall like Dominos.

Once the world sees that Colorado doesn’t fall into a state of ruin because of a bunch of pot smoking radicals have suddenly overrun the state, shooting off guns, raping, looting, and vandalizing the entire state (that’s left to the alcohol consumers), the rest of the United States, and perhaps even the world, will fall into position, and line up to get the legalization of marijuana onto their own state polls.  It’s already happening:  California is racing to get the legalization of marijuana onto it’s 2014 ballot and New York State is talking about being the next state to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

Trust me when I say that this is only the beginning.

In Closing

Why do I feel this one interview is such a decisive moment in our mutual human history?  Not only will it force conversations that never could have occurred at the dinner table, in the checkout line, in political debates, in schools, and among parents and children, but it will force every one of us to re-think what we’ve been led to believe is true, and on so many levels, from our own personal beliefs, to our belief systems as a culture.

It’s critical to understand that this change in position on a Federal level didn’t occur simply because there’s a bunch of new data that revealed new information on marijuana and its safety.  The truth about marijuana being far, far less dangerous than alcohol has existed since its prohibition in the 1920’s.  The truth is that the scientific data regarding marijuana’s safety is outweighed only by the scientific data regarding it’s medical uses.  And that has always been the case.  The only reason we’re hearing that marijuana is safer than alcohol is because of a massive shift in public opinion.

Think of the power we actually do have as a people when we unite against a common enemy; decades of false, misleading, deeply damaging information force fed to us by our government regarding the truth about marijuana.  If we can’t trust our government to tell us the truth about marijuana, what can we trust them to tell us the truth on?  Think about this for just a second; for decades, the Federal Government has allowed ads for cigarettes and alcohol to be shoved down our throats and into our lungs.  Smoking-related deaths, in the United States alone add up to almost 500,000 per year, yet both of those have remained legal, while regurgitation of “Reefer Madness” from 1936.

My hope is that, if nothing else, we each take the time to honestly reevaluate our own personal beliefs on marijuana.  I implore anyone who has a very emotional response to these recent developments, either for or against, to step outside of our comfort zones, to reach beyond our usual sources for news, and seek out an unbiased truth based in scientific fact and honest discussion.

I have long been a proponent of seeking out our own individual truth, to look at the facts rather than the propaganda, to at least consider the possibility that our government has been lying to us, on some level, in the name of profit and political agenda.  For me, it only took a simple look at the Annual Causes of Death in America to realize that something isn’t quite adding up in relation to what the Federal Government has been force-feeding me about marijuana.  I’m not one of the fanatics who beliefs that marijuana is the cure for all that ails us, but I will forever remain firmly entrenched in the camp that recognizes that cannabis, as the President himself just stated, is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.

Now that we’re armed with that simple truth, isn’t it about time we discuss marijuana with our friends, our family, or our loved ones, and perhaps, even our children?  Don’t let the internet trump good parenting.  Talk to your kids, take into consideration and honest discussion of current drug laws, and speak to them from an informed position rather than one based in propaganda and false media hype.  You will empower yourself as a parent, you will empower yourself in the eyes of your kids, and you will be personally responsible for moving our great nation forward into the future.

It will be a far more informed and connected future, where honest conversations take the place of blind rhetoric and misinformation.  I hope those conversations reach deep enough to address the very core of what we believe, and what we’ve been led to believe as a people.  I hope that love will seep into those conversations rather than the blind rage that has driven conversations regarding marijuana for many, many years.

It’s O.K. to have been mislead, but it takes an evolved and personally responsible person to open themselves to a new discussion, to a new belief system based on fact.  And perhaps that’s the eternal optimist in me, and perhaps that’s my own bias towards marijuana in general, but my optimism is based in fact, with avid personal passion. We’ve spent a great deal of time, with hundreds of articles pointing out the facts of marijuana as opposed to the propaganda of marijuana.  It may be unprofessional to feel that some of what we’ve spent so much time, energy, risk, and money on speaking to, has been vindicated on many levels, as we move into a new era of human existence, and one where marijuana needs to be spoken about honestly, for the first time since the early 1900’s.

It’s about time.

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Mumola , Christopher J. and Karberg, Jennifer C., “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004“, Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, January 2007) NCJ 213530, p. 4.

Harrison, Paige M. and Beck, Allan J., “Prisoners in 2004“, Bureau of Justice Statistics, (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, October 2005), NCJ 210677, Table 1, page 2., “Marijuana “State Marijuana Laws Map “Annual Deaths Attributed to Cigarette Smoking “Fact Over Fiction: Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol